Monday, 17 May 2010


Today is IDAHO - not the US state best known for potatoes and survivalists - the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  What would the world look like if bias against and fear of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were suddenly to disappear? Would it be a place where 'normal' marriage would be destroyed and the fabric of society would totally unravel as most religious people and political conservatives would have us believe?

Perhaps that world would look more like Mexico's region of Juchitán - a place where - as reported in a 2008 New York Times piece, sexuality and gender identity is understood in a more flexible and continuous way than it is in most of the world. Juchitán is a place where males who have felt themselves to be female from childhood are known as muxes and are as accepted in society as much as anyone else.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that the Juchitán society has not completely unravelled. But the attitudes expressed by the family members of the muxes bring tears to my eyes in their gentle acceptance and welcoming of differences. The grandmother of a thirteen year old Muxe sums up the attitude of many when she says “It is how God sent him." The father of 16 year old Alex (pictured above with Alex and his mother) says about his muxe son “It was God who sent him and why would I reject him?" These people with their considerable faith seem to 'get' what the more 'sophisticated' religious right do not - we are all children of God to be accepted and loved in the way we are made.

The Juchitán way of thinking intrudes on what is usually a tidy categoried way of looking at sexuality. You must be gay or straight, we are told. OK, bisexuality is possible, but no one dare admit to it knowing that they will be rejected by everyone identified with either of the two poles...  Juchitán allows for more fluidity.

The Juchitán way is more in alignment with the many studies over the years that tell us that sexuality is a continuum. And why would it not be? We are not either short or tall, with no one in between. We are not divided neatly into the shy or outgoing, messy or tidy, smart or dumb, black or white, or blind or sighted categories. Why would sexuality be entirely different from these others?

The classic Kinsey Reports clearly show sexual orientation to fall along a continuum. A more recent piece in Scientific American by Robert Epstein is one in many confirmations of the Kinsey conclusions and Epstein claims that "fewer than 10 percent of subjects score as “pure” hetero sexual or homosexual."

So, why - despite all of the evidence that sexual orientation is continuous - do we continue to insist on tidily categorizing each other into two or three discrete groups? To some extent, it is clearly human nature to put everyone into boxes and slap on a label - it helps us make sense of our world. It also degrades people and prevents us from understanding and having compassion for one another - and indeed, for our own selves.

On this day - IDAHO - maybe we can begin to recognize with acceptance that the walls we build between us are false and that we build them out of fear for what we see within. Maybe today can be a moment of gentle loving kindness to ourselves that say it is OK not to be 100% this or that, but that being human is good enough. Only when we can accept ourselves can we accept others.


  1. Amen to that, and happy IDAHO. I am happy to be bisexual, and to recognise gender and sexuality as fluid.

  2. couldn't have put it better myself. Brilliant.